The following was pulled off the nola.com Times-Picayune online front page, after a brief showing on the front page links. God bless Gambit's Blog of New Orleans for keeping it alive, and for archiving a copy. I am reprinting the whole thing below. This afternoon, we are heading back, with every expectation we will able to reenter our city late on Thursday.
Next time, we won't leave
Posted by James O'Byrne, staff writer, Times-Picayune September 02, 2008 8:11PM
The next time, my family will stay. I'm sure that Gov. Bobby Jindal, Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff, Mayor Ray Nagin, Jefferson Parish President Aaron Broussard and all the other public officials mean well. I'm sure they thought it was a good idea to panic people into leaving. I'm sure they believe it's in the public's best interest to stay away while they clean up.
But the evacuation of the metro area in advance of Gustav, and the subsequent policies regarding re-entry, will guarantee that in the next major storm to strike the region - which may occur in a matter of days or weeks - many more people will be at risk. The slightest bit of vision, combined with an open ear to the anger and frustration of this hurricane-weary citizenry, would make the government officials responsible realize that they helped to make this happen.
Under Louisiana law, it is still legally not possible to forcibly remove people from their property and make them leave in advance of an approaching storm. So every evacuation becomes an implicit contract between the officials and the public. You tell us the truth, and the risks as the scientists and forecasters see it. We'll try to make good decisions for the sake of our families. When that contract is broken, as I believe it was in the case of Gustav, then the tradeoff is that fewer people leave the next time. Here's three rules that public officials must follow if they want people to evacuate in significant numbers again:
Rule No. 1: Don't exaggerate and force a panic. It is not supposed to be the business of public officials to panic people with disinformation, misinformation, or downright lies. To call Gustav "the mother of all storms" 900 miles wide, as Mayor Nagin did, was demonstrably untrue, and an insult to Katrina and all who suffered through that storm. Gustav had hurricane force winds extending 50 miles from its center. Katrina, by comparison, had hurricane force winds extending 105 miles from the center. It was 50 percent more powerful, and carved a path of destruction more than twice as wide as Gustav.
Read the rest here.